New York – a 2018 report

New York, New York… When I talk about trends I tend to say that all trends originate from the big apple. Regardless if they start in California or Japan, the trend needs to reach New York before go massmarket. Last week I was in New York for the design week that runs in May and I will do this report in two sections. First we talk about what has happend in the city and talk about what has changed since last year. What can we expect to see in our streets in Europe? New York might give the answer.

I want to go to New York atleast once a year, to be able to scout tendencies and changes. Last year’s report can be found here (in Swedish). 2017 That year I arrived to a city with reports of closed stores and “for lease”-signs everywhere. I was not overly alerted last year. I saw a lot of new constructions and vigor. Not so this year…

2018 is shockingly empty. Shockingly. A bit exagurated but when we walked Bleeker Street all the way to Whitney Museum, almost 50% of all stores were closed. The number is of course not statistically accurate, but still. Lots and lots of empty stores. A lot.

     

So if stores are closing – what will come instead? From my perspective, there is no clear answer. There have been talks about realtors or real estate agents to move into ground floor stores (like in the pic above), and of course we see that in New York and in my hometown Stockholm. Why does a real estate agent have to have a store facility? I am not sure why, but I can guess that we are moving a lot. In Sweden we have asaying that we have a apartment career so we need to change often. But will we see real estate agents fill the empty stores of Bleeker Street? I dont think so.

There are of course talks about the whole pop up culture. And of course we see some of that in New York. But perhaps three examples… There should be 300 pop up stores, not three.

You can of course argue that these empty stores will become restaurants and maybe they will. Not 100% sure though.

In some European cities we also see how some technological brands open their own flagship stores, like Samsung, Tesla etc. But again – I think they will only go for premium locations and not a store in every block. What will happen to all those empty the store locations of Bleeker Street?

Perhaps the answer is: pet stores. This is something you now see in almost every block in New York. Not necessarily fancy or trendy, but pet stores… Small, large, quirky, generic, all kinds.

Here a pet store in Lower East Side that imitate the look of Vetements. The raincoat says Petements and DOG.

Regardless of what we think of retail, I realised that the streets of New York have gotten a bit greener. It’s like all stores or restaurants are taking over the streets with containers with greenery. Very nice.

I love the creativity of using an old bathtub for plants.

We even saw proper containers with trees in Brooklyn.

Another thing New York is good at, are street signs. I think it is funny to see how they try to make us stop, read and go into a shop.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying that New York showed new and innovative ways of doing retail. But fashion brand Kith is onto something pretty cool. It’s not new for 2018 but still kind of unexploited. We all know that desserts and sweets are driving traffic, so Kith has opened an icecream parlour on second floor of their flagship building.

I saw some stores that still impress me. The common thing is curation. The stores boldly go out and talk about their unique content. A store that has been talked about for a while is store that is called Story. A store with about 100 sqm and the change the whole setting and content every six weeks. This time it was all about the work space.

 

Another store that prides itself with unique content is Love Adorned. Design, craft and art – and flowers in a nice mix.

 

A third store that impresses me is Dear Rivington. Not at all new, but I like how they work with curated and selected ceramics from all over the world.

So inconclusion. New York are closing stores. We might see some flagship stores with technological brands and some pop up store, but more likely pet stores. Also streets are getting greener – and curation is king.

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Tesla with its troubles won’t be opening many more new stores. There’s an ad on tv now for an e-car sport coop from Jaguar for $39,000. That’s Tesla’s range. As for empty store fronts, rents are going up and neighborhood streets are being abandoned. But thanks for the introduction to a flight of new stores that I’m not familiar with.